Grace AT THE CROSS and GRACE AFTER THE CROSS
by Bill Burkett
1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am:
Grace makes Christians, it builds Christ-like men of God! It was Grace that Paul here declares to be the divine source of his being what he was. Grace had a task when it took over the life of the persecutor and made him into a chief apostle! But that is what Grace does for those to who come to God through Christ; this is what is what Grace is AFTER THE CROSS! It is a spiritual force, a tutor, a legal advisor at our side teaching us and guiding us in all of the matters of the new life. Grace is a transformer of character from evil to good as it touches the mind of the believer. Paul said, “By the Grace of God, I am what I am:” He had become something different that what he had been.
The present popular grace concept taught by Eternal Security and the Charismatics is a matter of simply placing faith in Christ and His substitutionary death on the cross, and that being all that is necessary to achieve salvation and go to heaven. It is sometimes called “the Faith Teaching.” That is, its all by faith in the finished work of Christ and no more! These people insist that works have nothing to do with salvation. This teaching is the result of not knowing the distinct difference between Grace AT THE CROSS and the function of a different Grace AFTER THE CROSS.
GOD’S GRACE OPERATES ON BOTH SIDES OF THE CROSS
Modern evangelical theologians have failed to make the distinction between the two operations of Grace. Atoning Grace which is solely the work of Christ in the death of the cross, rids us of our past sins when they are confessed, and gives us access into the presence of God with the righteousness of Christ to begin the new life of Saving Grace. In this Scripture Paul is speaking of the Grace God gives AFTER THE CROSS.
DISTINCT OPERATIONS ACCORDING THE SCRIPTURE
Saving Grace and then Serving Grace
They have limited faith to the work of Christ on the cross in behalf of the believer’s redemption. The result of this teaching (and a horrendous error) is that Saving Grace is focused on the work of Christ at the cross and not beyond. Saving Grace has been confused with Atoning Grace – but they are two different Graces!
and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain;
Several words are added to this text to give it continuity in the English language by the translators. Without those added grammatical clarifications, which I often ignore, it literally reads, “His Grace upon me was not in vain.” What does he mean by this? He clarifies it in the next phrase – that Grace in Paul’s life was accomplishing something after he received the Grace of God initially. Also, Paul is declaring that God’s Grace can be given without being appropriated and received properly. Paul would have never implied that it can be received in vain if that was possible. When he said that it was not bestowed in vain, he is saying that there are instances where the the Grace of God was given in vain, that it accomplished nothing in the life after it was given.
but I laboured more abundantly than they all:
Grace is a spirit of labor, work or works! This is Grace AFTER THE CROSS. There are no works to the Grace of forgiveness and justification AT THE CROSS. That is all the work of Christ and the legal accomplishment of the blood, AT THE CROSS it is not works, lest any man should boast. But AFTER THE CROSS, there are works as Ephesians 2:10 clearly states after referring to Grace AT THE CROSS and the work of Christ’s atoning work on the cross in Ephesians 2:8-9.
Of course, we know by this letter to the Corinthian church in which he makes this statement, that he is serving God and laboring for the Lord AFTER THE CROSS. So, we further understand, then, that his mention of laboring as an evidence that the Grace of God had not been bestowed on his life in vain, is a reference to the Grace of God AFTER THE CROSS and that this Grace AFTER THE CROSS is a laboring Grace, a Grace of works inspired by the Holy Spirit.
yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Paul is quick to make it clear that he is not boasting of any works in his own strength, but works carried out by the Grace of God operating in his life (AFTER THE CROSS). So, in his final and closing remark, Paul makes it very clear that this Grace of God operating in his life is a hard working Grace of good works, i.e., missionary journeys, trials, persecutions, obedience to the moral law (Romans 13:8-10), evangelism and numerous hardships attached to establishing the early church.